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Remebering to stay positive during winter weather
February 12, 2014 - Dawn Bliss
I forgot how cantankerous and fickle winter weather can be in Iowa.
Even though I grew up experiencing the quick, extreme swings from mild to frigid cold, the changes that have happened in the past couple of months still seemed so sudden that they felt rude and abrupt, like a stinging slap in the face. This perceived assault put me on the defensive when temperatures first dipped and I quickly got caught up in complaining about the weather rather than appreciating the beauty and power of the season.
Luckily, I regained a more positive perspective after being coaxed outside by the bright sunlight spilling in through the window one afternoon. Feeling restless and resentful of hiding from the cold, I decided to go for a hike at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park north of Fort Dodge.
As it turned out, I was not alone in this feeling of cabin fever. People dotted the landscape, their warm laughter and chatter drifting across the park and chasing away any lingering chill. Families were sledding and tossing about snowballs while couples and individuals were cross country skiing and tromping about in snowshoes.
Among those zipping down the hillside to land at the beach along a frozen Badger Lake was 11-year-old Kase Baker. Our paths crossed while he was trudging up the hill, a round disk sled tucked up under his arm. Puffing when he reached the top, he smiled with a sparkle in his eyes and a flush to his cheeks. “I’m not usually tired,” he said, setting the sled down and adjusting a glove. “Snow wears you out, but it’s more fun when it’s cold out.”
Of course, at the time Baker shared this opinion with me it wasn’t nearly as cold as it would get in a matter of 24 hours. The temperature dropped from nearly 50 degree down into single digits by the next day. Shortly thereafter we dipped below zero and were hit with ferocious record breaking wind chills. That, of course, was followed by a brief warm up before yet another round of frigid temperatures.
Health advisories were issued, calling for people to cover themselves in layers from head to toe to prevent potentially deadly frostbite and hypothermia. It certainly didn’t seem as if this cold made any task more fun. Yet, even as my breath puffed in white, steamy clouds from my mad dashes to and from warm shelters, I thought of what Baker had said.
Children just don’t get tied in knots the way adults do. For them, it simply is more fun when it’s cold outside. They enjoy the bite of the wind, the crystalline beauty of falling snowflakes, and the creative excitement of building snowmen. Oh, and just try to keep them from wading into the deep snow drifts in the ditches or climbing to the tops of piled up snow mounds. It can’t be done.
However, when adults hear a winter front threatens to move into the area we dread scrapping ice from car windows, worry about shoveling walkways before we get fined and we angrily anticipate the slipping and sliding that will transpire on the roadways. We are aware of the dangers that come with the wind, snow and ice - and those risks need to be taken seriously - but we often end up fixating on them and missing out on the fun.
Of course, that’s not to say the winter weather goes totally unappreciated by adults. Parents, once they get done bundling up their children and are able to get them safely outside, do enjoy certain benefits. “Getting them out here burns off all their energy,” said Amanda Baker, Kase Baker’s mother. “We take every opportunity we can to let them get out and explore the real world.”
The real world isn’t always warm and comfortable, so having an optimistic outlook where cold does indeed make everything more fun isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it’s an essential perspective in being adaptable and resilient adults.
Kase Baker, 11, left, adjusts a glove before he and Allison Berkett, 2, go back to playing in the snow during an outting with their families at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park north of Fort Dodge.